Parkville board member Dave Rittman comments after mayor’s arrest
ne member of the Parkville Board of Aldermen said Monday he and other board members had not yet been briefed about Mayor Nan Johnston’s arrest early Saturday morning on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Alderman Dave Rittman said, “There’s been no notification from the city or from Nan at this point.”
Rittman, who commented during a telephone interview late Monday afternoon, called the mayor’s arrest early Saturday morning by a Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputy “a sad moment for everybody.”
The Landmark was the first news outlet to report Johnston’s arrest, breaking the story on Sunday at www.plattecountylandmark.com.
On Monday, Rittman said the board of aldermen is “entitled to know what’s going on. Somebody ought to be telling us something,” he said. “If not, we’re going to ask.”
City Administrator Joe Parente said in an email sent to The Landmark Tuesday afternoon: “The City of Parkville and Board of Aldermen will not be speaking about Mayor Johnston’s incident over the weekend,” he wrote. “This is the time to trust the legal process. We will continue to focus on serving Parkville residents and businesses.”
Johnston was taken into custody following an arrest by a sheriff’s deputy who observed a vehicle driven by Johnston on southbound Hwy. 9 near Eastside Drive, just north of Hwy. 45, near the Parkville city limits. According to authorities, the arresting deputy noticed erratic driving, including crossing of the center line, and stopped the driver about 1:20 a.m. Saturday.
The deputy conducted a roadside sobriety test in which Johnston’s blood alcohol content indicated a level of .110 on the portable breath test device. The mayor was taken to the Platte County jail where she was booked.
Because a portable breath test is not admissible in court, according to a sheriff’s spokesman, it is routine to conduct another test at the jail using a high-tech breath machine. That test measured .098 a little more than an hour after the car stop was conducted, the sheriff’s department says.
Missouri’s legal driving limit is .080.
Johnston, 60, posted $1,000 bond and was released about 3:30 a.m. Saturday. An initial January court date, which will likely change as the process moves forward, has been set.
Rittman said the mayor will “have to address the charges and circumstances at the appropriate time.” But he said because the mayor is an elected official, he believes the board of aldermen “has no authority.to discipline her” or take other action.
When asked about the city’s ethics commission and whether the mayor’s arrest would be a topic for the group to consider, Rittman said he had no idea.
The commission’s purpose, as described on the city’s website, is to “render advisory opinions to the board of aldermen in all ethics complaints and to investigate and report on allegations of violations of the City Code of Ethics and ordinance provisions concerning conflicts of interest and financial disclosure by all elected and appointed officials, as well as employees.”
The commission’s five members serve staggered five-year terms and the mayor appoints one member to serve as a chairperson with the other members representing one of each of the city’s four wards.
Rittman said he does not know but doubts if the commission’s duties go beyond conflicts of interest and financial disclosures.
Rittman said the ethics commission was established in 2005.
The Parkville city clerk on Tuesday told The Landmark that members of the city’s ethics commission are Chris Fisher, Deborah Butcher, Gil Scott, Jerry Felker and Peggy Parolin.
Parolin, whose name is listed as Wrightsman Parolin on a Facebook post on the Citizens for a Better Parkville page, defended Johnston and urged residents to consider the mayor’s service to the community. Parolin said Johnston has been publicly ridiculed, but did not specify for what actions.
A Platte County area resident has filed a civil suit against the city for what he states is the city’s refusal to properly release public documents under the state’s Sunshine Law, which is designed to protect transparency. Many of the communications requested involve the more than 350-acre Creekside Development, currently under construction in the city.
Parolin’s post on Facebook states: “I’ve known Nan Johnston as a person, not just as a public figure to be torn down for not pleasing everyone, for 20 years. She’s been elected twice by the citizens of Parkville. Surely there must be some good in what she’s done. While she is the mayor and public figure, let’s not forget she is human. She is one person; we are a community. Let’s work together instead of constantly tearing each other down. I’m not sure how anyone could endure what has been leveled at her. It’s not just professional; it’s become personal. She is a mother, a neighbor, and friend.just like many of you. It’s unfortunate so many who have benefitted from her efforts are those same people, perhaps unknowingly, who are intent on destroying her. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It would be interesting to see what would happen if you spent the same energy working for the good of the community as you do trashing the efforts of others.”
Parkville resident Jay Jackson responded to Parolin with a post saying: “Uber. Like the rest of us” to which Parolin agreed.
“What happened wasn’t in anyone’s best interest,” Parolin wrote. “Uber is an excellent solution.”